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Use your summer

The summer holidays provide a lengthy and welcome reprieve for students of all ages after a long year of learning, studying and, in senior years, preparing for the HSC.

But the break shouldn’t be mistaken for an opportunity to entirely slack off and lose vital skills. Summer holidays can instead be the chance to hone skills, build on knowledge and get a jump on the year ahead.

Here’s a guide to what students of all ages should be doing over summer…

Maintaining the momentum

For over a century researchers have noted a loss of learning over extended holiday periods, with intensive subjects like mathematics most prone to taking a hit.

Known as “summer learning loss“, this “school” of thought encompasses 39 studies since 1978, all of which note that in the absence of school, students score lower standardised test scores at the end of summer as compared to their performance on the same tests the previous academic year.

In the most extreme cases this loss accounts for up to 2.3 months of learning.

Concerned? Don’t be. Here’s what you need to do…

Summer reading

Whether it’s sight reading or more complex literature, reading should be on every student’s Christmas list over the summer holidays.

For young students, maintaining the momentum of reading each day allows them to build familiarity with words and comprehension. It also helps improve their spelling, reading fluency and builds a love of the written word.

Unlike during the school year, holiday reading is all about pleasure, so schedule a trip to the library to have students select the texts they love.

High school and senior students should also be reading for pleasure, but may include some fact-based items on their summer reading list.

This is particularly pertinent for students transitioning from Year 11 to Year 12, who can use the summer break to swat up on the HSC curriculum.


Mathematics is everywhere and should also be part of the holiday fun. For young students that involves simple exposure to everyday maths through projects like cooking, times tables and shopping.

Again, senior students may wish to use the holidays to brush up on more complex mathematics components, or seek assistance in areas where they struggle. A little bit of revision in the holidays can set them up well for the next year ahead.


From touch-typing apps, to crafty activities, there are a host of tools available that hone educational skills. Chances are your child’s school has provided resources that assist, but general and fun exercises are readily available on the internet, through hands-on, science-style books, and via a host of other resources that require only minimal investigation.

It’s worth remembering, for primary students even simple daily activities like arts, crafts, shopping, cooking, typing and play can help build on learning skills, and incorporate a level of fun into the educational adventure.

More advanced students in higher years can use the holidays to broaden their learning exposure and for some this may be as simple as a good old fashioned job, work experience or even chores. Meanwhile, the internet opens up a world of learning opportunities, as do games, and activities like cooking the nightly family meal.

For students who have found the previous year challenging, the summer break provides the chance for some extra tutoring to get across the subjects where they experienced difficulty in the year just past.

HSC students

HSC students transitioning from Year 11 to Year 12 are in a unique position and should be using the summer break to continue the study path. Now is the time to remedy areas of weakness, familiarise yourself with upcoming subjects, and get a little confidence under your belt ahead of the Year 12 adventure to come.

This fits with the philosophy that the HSC is a marathon not a sprint, and any study will stand you in good stead over the next year.

About Chalkwall

At Chalkwall our aim is to create lifelong learners by equipping students with the strategies, support and resilience they need to thrive in any education setting. Our programs cover primary, high school, the HSC and beyond to specialist university entrance exams.

You can learn more about our successful programs here, or contact us for further advice.

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